Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Project (mis)Management

This is Hollway Road, Stockwood, as it appears on Google's Streetview. Inevitably, it's not quite up-to-the minute, in fact it must be all of a couple of years old. It still shows Langton Court, the council's sheltered flat complex that has since been demolished.

A lot happened in those two years. With Cabinet agreement secured, the tenants were found alternative places to live, the buildings were razed, and in their place Housing 21 have built this VSH (very sheltered housing) complex. It's called Bluebell Gardens, and the first occupants are already in. Not bad going, in a recession!

This is Hollway Road from the same place today:

Spanning the same period, there was another, much smaller scale, bid to improve things for Stockwood's less athletic community. It didn't need anyone to be rehoused, no new buildings, no land transfers, no legal work, no planning permissions. Just a couple of simple benches like this.

They were to be placed beside the hillside path that provides the main pedestrian link between the lower and upper parts of Stockwood; just the job for people going up to the shops and library, or down to the school. Fairly steep, though; and the only way to take a breather is to get down on the grass. 
Here's what the path looked like while Langton Court was still up and running in 2010.

And here's what it looks like now.

No change there, then.

The bench project quickly became mired in a Neighbourhood Partnership process that isn't fit for purpose. There's no problem in principle, everyone agrees that these benches would be just the job; a few hundred quid very well spent, and ticking all the right boxes. We might have had them now if we'd let them stay in the 'wellbeing' lists' – after all, if Tory councillors can gift an over-55's group a Christmas meal and, later, a coach trip at public expense, anything is possible. But instead we played fair, switching the benches to be judged alongside other possible open space improvements, and now they can't escape that long, long process. Requests to get the Partnership to give them priority are rebuffed, even after the NPs own Environmental Panel recommended it; the question cannot even be put on the Agenda. 

The situation is ludicrous – but NP managers seem totally disinterested.

Meanwhile, locals will still have to struggle non-stop up the hill, or use a car. Or buy into the spanking new Bluebell Gardens, which somehow got built without local authority red tape getting in the way.

Stockwood and Hengrove's next NP meeting, the first since June, is on Wednesday 17th October at Counterslip Church on Wells Road. Starts 6.30, business from 7pm. Observers welcome, but participation will, on past records, be strictly controlled!


The Bristol Blogger said...


You should have installed a "people's bench".

Here's Totterdown's:

It's still there outside Tesco Express and is used by all.

Revolutionary isn't it?

Stockwood Pete said...

I'll have to take a look next time I go to the Thali. It's very 'Big Society' isn't it! Question is, is the little plaque still on it?

The Bristol Blogger said...

Yes. The little plaque is still there! The South Bristol Anarchists don't need to be credited with inventing "The Big Society" in 2005, thanks.

Stockwood Pete said...

I thought maybe you wouldn't. I really need some smilies for these comments. :-)

I'm very glad the plaque is still there.